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ACLU slaps Pennsylvania school district with lawsuit for banning After School Satan Club

The ACLU alleges a Pennsylvania school district violated the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause by rescinding an After School Satan Club's rights to use district facilities.

A Pennsylvania school district faces a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for allegedly prohibiting an After-School Satan Club initially approved by school officials.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges the Saucon Valley School District originally approved the club, citing that they could not discriminate against The Satanic Temple (TST), which sponsors the ASSC, for requesting access to district facilities. The district later rescinded the access after uproar from others, alleging the club sponsor had violated a policy requiring that outside groups' school facility use should not "interfere with the educational program of the schools."

The ACLU of Pennsylvania claims the walk back violates the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause.

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"The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that the SVSD’s refusal to grant the ASSC equal access to school facilities give a "heckler’s veto" to those who dislike the group’s religious viewpoint, even though the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from censoring speech based on the objections or reactions of others," an ACLU press release from March 30 reads. 

Sara Rose, deputy legal director for The ACLU of Pennsylvania, alleges the district's actions set a "dangerous precedent" for refusing to protect controversial opinions from censorship.

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"The First Amendment protects the expression of unpopular or controversial views from government censorship. Once the district opened up school facilities to outside use, it was bound by the First Amendment to grant equal access to all groups, regardless of their religious beliefs or viewpoints," she said, according to the press release.

The release also states the school district's claim that the After-School Satan Club's permissions were rescinded after the club failed to clarify that the club was not sponsored by the district itself, but the "lawsuit explains that this claim is pretextual and discriminatory."

ACLU cited other religious clubs and groups that are allowed to use the district's facilities to meet, including predominantly Christian organizations.

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The Satanic Temple's ASSC programming director June Everett alleged the ban would send a "discriminatory message" to students who hold different beliefs than their peers.

"The After School Satan Club provides a critical space for students who may feel unwelcome at other after-school religious clubs," she said in the press release, continuing with, "By prohibiting the ASSC from meeting in school facilities, the district is sending a discriminatory message to the club’s students that they are second class and don’t deserve the same opportunities as their peers."

The Satanic Temple's complaint "requests emergency and permanent injunctive relief against the district, as well as compensatory and nominal damages and attorneys’ fees."

Fox News Digital reached out to the Saucon Valley School District superintendent and the ACLU for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.

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